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Osteoarthritis: What is it and How is it Treated?

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans each year and is thought to be the most commonly diagnosed form of arthritis. This type of arthritis is often associated with aging because it wears away the cartilage that protects the joints as a person ages.

This kind of arthritis affects many different joints but is most often found in the spine, hips, knees, and hands. It progresses over time and is often associated with a decrease in estrogen as a woman transitions through menopause. Even though the effects of osteoarthritis aren’t reversible, they can be slowed down with regular activity and various treatment options.

How does Dr. Razzano diagnose osteoarthritis?

Dr. Razzano uses several different tools to diagnose osteoarthritis. Both X-rays and MRIs are effective tools that can show the structure of the joint and where possible damage is occurring. Although cartilage isn’t visible, the narrowing between the bones of the joint can indicate its absence. An MRI does show cartilage but is only used to verify the condition of soft tissues and other structures in the joint.

Dr. Razzano uses blood tests and joint fluid analysis to rule out osteoarthritis. These tests, along with your symptoms and degree of flexibility or range of motion, can indicate whether or not osteoarthritis is present.

What are common treatment methods?

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain medications are the most common forms of treatment. While stronger pain medications are prescribed if the condition is severe, it’s been proven that many treatment options can prevent the condition from progressing to the point of being severe if patients follow through with treatments as recommended by Dr. Razzano.

He also encourages regular exercise that keeps the joints flexible. Tai chi, yoga, Pilates, swimming, and walking are just a few of the non-weight-bearing exercises that will keep pressure off of the joints while improving strength and maintaining maximum range of motion and flexibility.

Physical therapy is also beneficial, especially if you’ve received an injury or have had surgery to repair damage to the affected joint. If you need more information about treatment options for osteoarthritis, please contact Dr. Razzano to make an appointment at the Dayton office.